Friday, May 30, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Pacifier Madness Edition

Because I know you've all been holding your breath to know how the glucose test turned out on Tuesday, I'm going to report on that first.

I don't have gestational diabetes.

I know we could have dealt with it and managed just fine for the next 9 weeks or so, but I'm glad ecstatic that I don't have to think about counting carbs and testing my blood sugar four times a day. It would just be one more thing, you know? My brain feels kind of full most days already.

We celebrated the news by eating a bunch of sugary yogurt with even sugarier toppings from Sweet Frog. (Do you have Sweet Frog? I feel sad if you don't.)

Speaking of full brains, I've been wishing Dumbledore's pensieve was a real thing that I could order on Amazon. I really, really need one. I have all these lists of things...stuff we need to do before the baby comes, things I need to take with me when I leave the house, errands I need to run, questions I need to remember to ask George. Sometimes in the middle of the night, I get up and "empty my brain" onto a piece of paper so I won't have to lie there trying not to forget anything.

It seems like a terrible waste of energy. And paper.

"I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one's mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one's leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.
Yes. This would be much more efficient.
One thing on my mind lately is the children's 6 month dental appointment. So far, no one has had any cavities, but we go regularly so that Sam can have a cleaning and the girls can get used to the idea that one day they, too, will have their teeth cleaned.

It's never boring.

The appointment was supposed to be on Tuesday, but since I was busy vacationing at the midwives' office for the glucose test, I rescheduled for later this month. Our favorite babysitter is going along to be the extra set of hands (ever tried to wrangle 3 children ages five and under while someone tries to get them to open their mouths wide and starts touching their teeth? It. Is. Madness.) I've promised to treat everyone to Chick Fil-A afterward if we survive...but I already know the biggest hurdle we have to face will be before we arrive at the office that day.

The dreaded moment has arrived. It's time to get rid of the girls' pacifiers.

I know, I know. They're 2 1/2. I should have done away with the pacis (or "passas," as the girls call them) long ago. My sister told me so. "You've got to get rid of them early or it's going to be even worse," she said, having survived the process with her own daughter.

I should have listened. I was weak. I made excuses. "They only use them when they sleep," I said, which is true- they turn the passas in when they get up, and I stash them in a high place where they are out of reach. Somehow, I thought only using them for sleeping would make it easier to ditch them when the time came.

(What was I thinking?)

Sam never used a pacifier, and I would have naively said then that people shouldn't use them. Funny how having twins changed that know-it-all feeling I used to have. The pacifiers have been lifesavers. I'm indebted to them, really.

Did you ever see the old film Reefer Madness? It was all about how smoking marijuana made this group of respectable teenagers insane...they danced! to jazz music! how scandalous! and someone ended up getting shot, I think. Totally over the top craziness- it ended up becoming a cult classic.

No pacifiers. You'll regret it one day.

Anyway, I can't help thinking that we are in our own film- Paci Madness. It starts out fine enough...harmless little latex nipples with cute plastic rings on them that help the babies sleep. They don't cry. They suck happily and drift off to dreamland. The parents sigh contentedly and smile at each other as they snuggle into their own bed, happy to be getting such wonderful rest. It's all thanks to the paci.

And then...the paci madness starts.

The babies start throwing the pacis. They scream and demand that the parents come and pick them up. The parents drag themselves out of bed two, three, even four times in the night to retrieve the little lost opiates so that everyone can go back to sleep.

At just past two years of paci use, this is where we are.

The time has come to say goodbye to the pacis.

Besides, I know that in a few weeks, the dentist will ask if they are still using them, and I really want to be able to say, "No! They gave those up!" I'm pretty sure I get some kind of Good Mama Award if I do that, right?

Please, friends...pray for us. I think this could get ugly.

To replace the pacifiers, we told the girls they could choose "a special friend," which is their name for a stuffed animal.

Where would they like to go to look for these special friends?

IKEA, of course.

I think Lucy and Nora have been to IKEA once since they were old enough to remember, but they talk about it all the time. They push their babies in their strollers and say they're going to IKEA. They drive their Duplo guys in cars and say they are going to IKEA. I'm not sure what IKEA did to make them customers for life, but they got these girls early.

Anyway, I think we're going this weekend for the special friends and random other pre-baby needs: plastic mattress covers, hooks for towels, a small bookshelf, a lamp.

And probably meatballs. (Why are those so good?)

I guess we could view quitting the pacifiers as a milestone of sorts, just one I'd rather not have to experience.

Other milestones are much more pleasant. Every time we finish a read-aloud book with Sam, it feels like kind of a milestone, too- the kind you fondly note in someone's baby book (or their homeschool reading log!). We finished Peter Pan this week and are ready to move on to our next book. After some discussion, it seems like it will be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this time.

This post by Micaela made me think. Are we introducing some of these books too soon? Having an advanced reader in the house is challenging- he wants to read better and harder stories all the time, and usually we try to have our read-alouds be things he might not be ready to tackle on his own. I try to guide him toward things that he's emotionally ready to handle and that won't overwhelm him. Peter Pan was racier than I remembered- we had to skip some parts when we were reading aloud- but he loved the story and the pirates and the excitement. I know he'll read the book again in a few years when he's more mature because he was so fond of it. I don't want him to be forced to only read The Magic Treehouse books for the next few years until his maturity catches up a bit to his reading level...but I'm not willing to throw him into the deep end with books that he's not ready to handle.

For now, I think it's okay that some of the language and some of the themes in what we read aloud together are going over his head. We're laying a foundation and fostering a love for great language and good stories and deep, interesting characters. It's okay if he doesn't get every detail right now.

George is doing another running streak this year. Last year, I participated, too...we ran at least a mile a day every day from Memorial Day to Independence Day. It was challenging, fun, and motivating, and it helped lay the groundwork for my marathon training.

This year, I'm jealous of the running streak (or really, of anyone who can run at all). My joints are super loose this pregnancy- my hips have been popping in and out of joint just from ordinary activities of daily living, so I can't chance any running until a while after this baby is born. I miss it so much. I think running functions kind of like the pensieve for me...a place to deposit thoughts and sort them out.

The endorphins are nice, too.

At least I have some labor-related endorphins to look forward to...and the running days will be back eventually. Still, if you're one of those people posting every day about your mileage on social media, please don't be upset if I stop commenting on your posts for a bit. It's not personal. I'm just sad without my own miles to claim...and you don't want me to compensate by starting to post about how many poopy diapers I rinsed off every day.

Hey, maybe now that we are getting rid of the pacifiers, we can tackle that potty training thing in earnest!

As always, thanks to Jen, our amazing host.
For more Quick Takes, visit her at Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fearfully and wonderfully made

By the time you are reading this, I am probably sitting in a waiting room (hopefully still sitting, hopefully not passing out!) doing the lovely 3 hour glucose test. (In case you missed the news, my one-hour glucose screening was borderline, so I get to go and take the 3-hour version. This involves fasting for 14 hours before getting blood drawn, chugging the sweetest non-carbonated liquid ever manufactured and then waiting around for 3 hours while they draw more blood each hour.)

I hope I don't have gestational diabetes, of course, but I'm looking forward to the time alone.

Sometimes I forget what it feels like to be by myself.

Shortly after my twins were born, some friends came to watch them so I could go get a pedicure. I was excited about the pedicure, of course...but the most wonderful part of it was getting to go someplace totally by myself. I always have company, even in the bathroom. I could hardly fathom the joy of sitting alone in a chair for half an hour. I could listen to music. I could read. I could do both. And then, it hit me...I could knit.

The people at the salon poked fun at me for carrying in my yarn and needles. The taunting continued as I plopped my feet in the warm water and started to stitch. "What, are you an old lady now?" the nail technician laughed. "Don't you want a magazine instead?" It was good-natured teasing, and it didn't bother me a bit since I was so gleefully alone. I spent the half-hour knitting and left with a partly finished scarf and bright red toenails.

It was a happy day.

Being on bedrest while pregnant with my girls meant giving up a lot of things, but it awakened my inner knitter. I had no idea I loved to knit before my twelve-year-old nephew taught me how. Now that I've started, I can't stop.

What is it about knitting that delights me? I love the entire process...the joy of choosing the yarn and the pattern especially for the recipient...the colors, the texture of the fiber, the flow of the stitches and the way they grow into something entirely new that didn't exist before.  It's a bold act: making something almost out of nothing- carefully crafting a special uniqueness and sending it off to its little place in the world to bring joy to someone specific, to make his day brighter or her head warmer, to be a little spot of color in a bleak stretch of time or space.

As we welcome a new baby into our family this summer, I want to make him something unique that is only his (and not handed down from his three older siblings, as so many of his toys and clothes will be). I've considered patterns and colors and stitches and finally settled on a blanket in bright, happy colors. Every time I cover him with it or spread it on the floor for him to lie on, my heart will smile remembering these days of weaving strands together, anticipating his arrival, imagining what he will be like. I'm preparing something special just for him, even as God is preparing him for us (and us for him, too).

The whole act of creating new pieces of knitting reminds me of the way God knit each of us together. When I think of God knitting, I picture God as a large-boned woman with strong hands and skin the color of caramel, rocking in a chair on her front porch, knitting needles flying, humming under her breath. I imagine the amazing array of colors and textures she has at her disposal...the intricate patterns she designs, a different pattern for every one of us, a way in which we are special, different, set apart from every other person she has ever made, incredible love wrapped up in every tiny stitch.

Looking at my children, I see how miraculous they are- the tiny fingers, the dimpled elbows, the shining eyes. I admire Lucy's corkscrew curls that set her apart from every other member of our family and the way she crinkles the corners of her eyes when she tells a joke she knows is clever. I adore Nora's eye for color and pattern, evident in her carefully-chosen paints and unusual outfits, always paired with bright pink rain boots or bright blue Crocs and her favorite yellow socks. I marvel at the way Sam's increasingly capable fingers stack tiny Legos together and twist pieces of foil, duct tape and cardboard into the shapes he desires and how his puns and wordplay make me laugh out loud.

We are all creators created by a Creator. The impulse to create is deeply ingrained in each of us, knit into the center of our souls, because we were created that way by God. It's all so breathtaking, I can hardly stand it.

There is fear sometimes, and doubt, and the feeling that I'm not doing enough or being enough. There is worry that somehow there won't be enough of me to stretch over another little person who needs me every bit as much as his brother and sisters already do. I know, though, that creation is good. This new life is good. Any voice that tells me otherwise is a lie. Knitting is an act of defiance, of optimism, of choosing to believe that there will always be enough to go around. I knit because it is doing something. It is rejoicing in more. It is multiplying our joys instead of counting what we lack. It is celebrating life- welcoming new babies, warming hands a size larger than they were last winter, comforting cold toes that are far from home. It is creating joy.

Week by week, a new life is being created under my heart. As this baby's blanket grows with every row knit or purled, I keep feeling him move inside me, and my own joy overflows.

Friday, May 23, 2014

7 Quick Takes: mark all as read edition

Earlier this week, my friend Jenna posted on Facebook that "sometimes, life is life and you have to Mark All As Read." I've been feeling so behind on everything- on reading other blogs, on reading and responding to comments here, on reading and responding to e-mails, on writing deadlines, on cleaning the microwave (which I finally did do and it was AWFUL in there).

Jenna, you are right. Life is life. I wish there was a Mark All As Read function for the laundry, but since there isn't, I'm following your example with my online life. I can't possibly catch up. If I missed something huge, someone please tell me.

I'm rebooting here on the blog, too, and focusing on moving forward. I can't catch y'all up on everything at this point, but here's a small window into what we have been doing. Just for fun, I'm doing this Super Quick Takes Haiku Style. Why use lots of words when just a few (and some well placed photos) will do?

Chincoteague Island.
(Yes, the beach is worth all of
the minivan sand.)

We took a trip out to Chincoteague Island last weekend- it was the best way to fit in one last beach trip before there are six of us instead of five. It was lovely. The kids are already asking to go back instead of having a birthday party in September (when all three of their birthdays happen). What reasonable adult would argue with that?

There will be six of us then, and one of us will be about six weeks old. At this moment, though, the mere fact that there will only be one new baby and not two makes this whole idea seem incredibly doable.


Sorting hand-me-downs-
like Purgatory, because
at least it's not Hell.

I am always so, so grateful for the boxes of hand-me-down clothes we have stocked away in our shed, but somehow, the sight of those gray bins stacked in my kitchen makes me feel like the walls are pressing in on me. I've worked diligently, though, and everyone has their summer clothes in the house (washed, dried, folded, mostly put away) and their fall/winter clothes in bins ready to go back out to the shed. That's no small feat.

Knitting for babies:
nothing's quite like getting kicked
inside while purling.

I'm working on the most wonderful striped blanket for Upcoming Baby Boy Dupuy (loosely based on this pattern, but not, because I can't ever just do something simple and follow the directions). Also in the knitting project pile- a hat for my Nephew-To-Be and a just-completed hat for my cousin's new baby daughter.

Oh, Dorothy Day!
I love you, but your writing
makes me so sleepy. 

I'm almost finished with The Long Loneliness, our second-to-last book for the Well-Read Mom this year (which I've been hosting every month at my house). Our meeting is Sunday. I have to finish it before then, because if I don't, I never, never will. It's not that I don't like it. I like it a lot. For some reason, though, maybe a writing style reason or a third trimester reason or a just-have-too-much-going-on reason, every time I read more than about eight pages, my eyes get really, really heavy.

It's very interesting, and you should still read it. Really.

Once isn't enough
when it comes to glucose drinks.
Fast, drink and repeat.

I was not thrilled completely horrified to get a call from my midwives' office two days ago, informing me that my results on that awful one-hour glucose test were "borderline." Never mind that I've had two normal tests already this pregnancy (and two the last pregnancy, and three the pregnancy before that)...borderline means I need to do the fasting three-hour test on Tuesday.

For the uninitiated, this involves not eating for 14 hours, going to the office, having blood drawn, then drinking 100 mg of what tastes like flat orange soda and trying not to throw up or pass out for the next three hours while they draw your blood three more times (once each hour).

Since SuperSam, my first baby, weighed over ten pounds, they always kind of want to give me gestational diabetes. So far, they have been unsuccessful.

The odd thing is, I'm kind of looking forward to the time by myself in the waiting room. How bad is it that three hours of waiting for blood draws on an empty stomach sort of sounds relaxing? I'll be on twitter and facebook, I'm sure...anyone want to hang out?

Dear Galactica,
I avoided you so long.
Now I'm really hooked.

You know you've been watching too much Battlestar Galactica on Netflix when you start making jokes to the phlebotomist at the midwives' office about her testing your blood to see if you're a Cylon.

They look human now, you know.

Just saying.

Now you're all caught up.
Liberated by Jenna,
I'm all caught up, too.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Five-Minute Friday: Grateful

I remember how I felt, a few short weeks ago...standing close beside my husband, flanked by wiggling, giggling, dancing children and friends, grinning from ear to ear, a surge of joy pressing against my ribs, tears in my eyes.


It rang from all corners, filling the spacious room, vibrating with the hundreds of voices proclaiming it.

Christ is Risen.

How easy is it, a few weeks later, to remember that it's still Easter? To remember that Easter was (and is) not a day, but a totally new reality? How quickly did I forget to proclaim it every day in my heart, with my voice, in my actions and in my relationships?

Christ is Risen, Indeed.

Looking backward to the last week of Lent, to the fatigue I felt, to the last post I made in this space (about meatless meals), I realize that somehow my alleluia faded back into a Lenten resignation...that feeling of searching through a desert for sustenance while waiting for the joy that will I expect will eventually arrive.

In allowing this to happen, in giving up my alleluia, I somehow also lost my voice here- surrendered it to the flood of daily worries and details and tasks that can overwhelm even the calmest, most organized, most cheerful mother of young children.

This is my fault. My fault. My most grievous fault.

I've forgotten to be grateful.

The thing about grateful is that it isn't how I feel. I don't feel grateful automatically when I wake up, still tired from the day before, hearing someone in a nearby room yelling, "MAMAAAA!" I think of the hundreds of things before me, and I feel burdened, and the last thing I want to say is, "Thank you."

Grateful is a decision I have to make- not once each morning, but twenty, fifty, a hundred times each day. Grateful for the bickering over which blessing we'll say at breakfast. Grateful for constant stream of child-questions that pelt the back of my head in the car. Grateful for the books scattered all over the floor in most of the rooms of our small house. Grateful for poopy diapers, even, and the chance to wash them out, over and over again and dry them on the line.

Instead of choosing grateful, I've been choosing to feel sorry for myself, running my awareness over and over the inevitable places I feel want or lack or need.

I repent.

I choose grateful.

And with that choice, I am sure I'll find my voice again.

Five Minute Friday